You learned many valuable skills while serving in the military: teamwork, discipline, and a professional trade that you may have turned into a lifelong career once you entered civilian life. Here are examples of common jobs that many veterans transition to:
- Boiler technician
- Demolition worker
- Construction worker
- Floor and insulation installer
- Plumber/pipe fitter
Unfortunately, these are also some of the same occupations that present a high risk of asbestos exposure. Even though you finished your tour of duty and came home safe, you probably were unaware that your safety was still at risk due to the hidden dangers of working with asbestos-containing materials.
Raising Awareness among Veterans of the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure
I was honored to represent Sokolove Law and sponsor the recent VFW National Convention in St. Louis. Our goal was to alert veterans to the possibility that they may have been exposed to asbestos either when performing their jobs in the military or while doing so afterward in civilian life. While I regret that I was unable to speak to each and every one of you at the convention, please know that just as you worked so hard to defend your country, Sokolove Law pledges to work hard to educate veterans on the dangers of asbestos.
For years, manufacturers continued to include asbestos in their products, long after the dangers had become known. What saddens me is that the men and women who served our country proudly are often the ones in danger when it comes to being exposed to asbestos.
Roofing tiles, insulation materials, and sheetrock are just a few of the types of products that were frequently made with asbestos. While this practice had largely stopped by 1980, buildings and ships built before then are likely to have been constructed with asbestos-containing material. This continues to put workers at risk, as disruption of asbestos through sawing, patching, or renovation work of any kind can disturb the asbestos fibers and send them airborne. Once inhaled, those fibers can lodge in the lungs or abdomen and lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma—an aggressive cancer whose only known cause is asbestos.
We now know that any level of exposure to asbestos can be life-threatening, even deadly. Because it can take upward of 50 years for symptoms to appear, many veterans may be at risk and not even realize it.
We urge you, and all veterans, to contact your local VA or doctor for a complete physical examination if you suspect you may have been exposed to asbestos.